We are delighted to share the Swiss National Science Foundation project Beyond Compassion: Gender and Humanitarian Action” which is led by Dolores Martín Moruno, Marie Leyder and Brenda Lynn Edgar, and based at the Institute for Ethics, History and the Humanities (an interdisciplinary centre based in the University of Geneva’s Faculty of Medicine).

As Dolores, Marie and Brenda maintained, “the objective of our research is to reconstruct the knowledge that women humanitarians produced, as they came to the assistance of war victims, in the light of categories such as gender, class, race, ethnicity, as well as religion. This approach allows us to understand this knowledge as a set of care-related practices that have remained invisible from the viewpoint of officially recognised medical practitioners. Widely perceived as gestures originating from female compassion, these practices have not been recognised as real work”. They also added, the project “seeks to create a common space for dialogue between scholars and a wide audience to disseminate the research results of our ongoing SNSF Professorship project, ‘Those women who performed humanitarian action: a Gendered history of compassion from the Franco-Prussian War to WWII’ and its extension ‘Lived Humanitarianism: Gender, Experiences and Knowledge(s) (1853-1945)’. Considering public engagement essential to constructing scientific knowledge, our objective is to involve a variety of social agents (scholars, museum curators, NGO practitioners, feminist activists, contemporary artists, students and science enthusiasts) in the co-production of historical research”.

They have published the results of their research in different special editions of reviews such as “Feminist perspectives on the history of humanitarian relief (1870-1945)” and “Feeling humanitarianism during the Spanish Civil War and Republican exile”. They are also working on two books: Making Humanitarian Crises: Emotions and Images in History (to be published by Palgrave Macmillan) and Beyond Compassion: Gender and Humanitarian Action (to be published by Cambridge University Press).

Their project has also resulted in the exhibition WHO CARES? GENRE ET ACTION HUMANITAIRE, organised with the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Museum in Geneva.

For further information on the exhibition, please click here

For further information on the project Beyond Compassion: Gender and Humanitarian Action, please click here